(AP) — A female sailor has completed the arduous 37-week training course to become a Naval Special Warfare combatant-craft crewman — the boat
operators who transport Navy
SEALs and conduct their own classified missions at sea.
She was one of 17 sailors to graduate and receive their pins on Thursday, and she is also the first of 18 women
who have tried out for a job as a SWCC or a SEAL to succeed.
The sailor's graduation
is just the latest inroad that women have made into some of the military
's most difficult and competitive commando jobs
— just five years after all combat positions were opened up to them. She will now serve on one of Naval Special Warfare's three special boat teams.
“Being the first female to graduate from a Naval Special Warfare training pipeline
is an extraordinary achievement, and we are incredibly proud of our teammate,” said Rear Adm. H.W. Howard III, commander of Naval Special Warfare. “Like her
fellow operators, she demonstrated the character, cognitive, and leadership attributes required to join our force.”
“She and her fellow graduates will have the opportunity to become experts in clandestine special operations, as well as manned and unmanned platforms, to provide distinct capabilities to our Navy and the joint force in defense of the nation,” Howard added.
14 of the 18 females who applied for a Navy special operations job did not complete the course; however, three of them are still in the training pipeline, one for SWCC and two attempting to become SEALs. Overall, only about 35% of men and women who begin SWCC training actually graduate, according to the Navy.
A female soldier became the first woman to complete the Army's elite Special Forces course and join one of the all-male Green
Beret teams a year ago; one other female soldier has completed training and will report to her assigned Special Forces group next month; and another will attend the Military Freefall School
and then report to her team.
So far, no women have successfully completed Marine special operations training. According to Marine spokesman Maj. Hector Infante, nine females have attempted to get through the assessment and selection process since August 2016. He said two candidates made it through the second phase but did not meet performance expectations and, along with a number of male counterparts, were not selected to contingency.
According to him, only about 40% of the more than 1,200 Marines who took the course since 2016 completed it successfully.
According to Air Force
Lt. Col. Malinda Singleton, there are two enlisted females in the Air Force Special Warfare training pipeline for combat jobs that opened to women in 2015. One has completed the assessment and selection course and will be eligible for an assignment in a special operations job as soon as she completes some final training. The other woman is in the preparatory course.
While Navy SEALs are frequently in the news
for high-risk missions, the crew who operate the boats and weapons systems during raids and classified operations are also subjected to a rigorous selection and training process.
The training to become a combatant craft crewman follows the Navy's initial recruit boot camp and includes a two-month preparatory course, a three-week orientation at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, Calif., and seven weeks where they learn basic navigation and water
skill, as well as physical
conditioning and safety.
Those who pass go on to seven weeks of basic crewman training to learn combat, weapons, and communications, followed by a seven-week intermediate-level seamanship course, and finally survival, evasion, resistance, and escape training as well as a cultural course.
According to Naval Special Warfare, approximately 300 sailors attempt and complete the SWCC course each year, with between 760 and 800 sailors in the force at any given time